New York Giants’ Curious Decision to Cut Logan Ryan Proves a Dramatic Overhaul Is Incoming

The new-look New York Giants are doing what many expected: Revamping a broken roster that won just four games in 2021. Their rebuild continued on Thursday with the stunning departure of veteran safety Logan Ryan.

Ryan, 31, was one of Big Blue’s vocal leaders over the last two seasons. But he was also heading into year two of a three-year, $31 million contract extension. For a team that’s desperate to clear as much salary cap space as possible, that alone threatened the veteran’s time in the Big Apple.

Still, even rebuilding clubs need team captains and proven leaders. So if Ryan can be callously released, it’s fair to assume that few Giants feel like their spot on next year’s team is secured.

The Giants released starting safety Logan Ryan

New general manager Joe Schoen was inheriting a last-place club that was over the cap. Needless to say, there were always going to be some changes on deck.

Still, it caught many by surprise when Ryan, a New Jersey native, was released by New York on Thursday afternoon.

Ryan was a successful cornerback for seven seasons before joining the hometown Giants on a one-year deal in 2020. Despite moving over to safety, the veteran was a bright spot for a defense that nearly led the 6-10 G-Men to the playoffs. But the former Rutgers star wasn’t as effective in 2021, the first year of his three-year extension.

Ryan, who quickly signed a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, joins TE Kyle Rudolph, RB Devontae Booker, and P Riley Dixon on the list of vets Schoen released this offseason.

Although Ryan was one of the higher-paid players on defense, New York actually doesn’t receive much cap space by releasing him. While the number has been disputed by numerous beat writers, ESPN‘s Jordan Raanan reported that Big Blue will save just below $800K after cutting their starting free safety.

Few veterans on the New York Giants are safe

It would be one thing if the Giants cut Ryan purely for financial purposes. However, if Raanan’s reporting is accurate, New York is receiving very little monetary benefit by releasing a respected team captain.

In other words, 90% of Big Blue’s roster should feel their seat get a little warmer.

With no real reason to move on from Ryan for salary reasons, the decision could have been strictly football. New York feels like the 31-year-old isn’t a strong fit in new defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale’s system. It’s certainly a risk, especially with Jabrill Peppers unlikely to re-sign as a free agent, leaving NYG with only Xavier McKinney and Julian Love at safety.

The Giants could feel similarly about cornerback James Bradberry. Not only would trading Bradberry free up over $12 million, but his weaknesses in man coverage directly contradict Martindale’s blitz-heavy, man coverage scheme.

Then there’s the offense, where running back Saquon Barkley is heading into his fifth and final season under his current rookie contract. With new head coach Brian Daboll and offensive coordinator Mike Kafka coming from pass-happy offenses in Buffalo and Kansas City respectively, building an offense around the oft-injured back makes little sense.

Not to mention, trading Barkley would also net the G-Men $7.2 million in cap space.

Rather than looking at the Ryan release as a one-off move, fans should look at it as the first of several prominent faces saying goodbye to the organization.

Schoen is rebuilding the Giants the right way

Releasing Ryan was legitimately the first move that caught several fans and media members off guard. He was well-respected within the organization and offered little savings against the cap. But sometimes, you have to move on anyway.

As an assistant GM, Schoen and GM Brandon Beane inherited a Bills team that hadn’t made the playoffs since 1999. They were over the cap and in need of a complete renovation. By their third year in charge, the Bills won 10 games. In 2020, they won their first division title since ’95 and advanced to the AFC title game. Last year, a 13-second Patrick Mahomes drive kept them from a second straight conference championship appearance.

Schoen knows that in order to turn a team around, big changes are necessary. Some will be for financial reasons, others for schematic purposes. And there will be a few moves that represent closing the book on one era and beginning a new chapter.

Ryan, with all due respect, was an embodiment of the previous regime. He was signed and extended by former GM Dave Gettleman despite being somewhat past his prime and served as a captain on Joe Judge’s deeply-flawed roster. Now, Schoen and Daboll can really make their mark on rebuilding one of the most broken franchises in the NFL.

Moving on from well-liked players is never easy. But as Schoen just demonstrated, that won’t stop him from doing what is best for the New York Football Giants.

All statistics courtesy of Football Reference and contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.

RELATED: New York Giants: Tyrod Taylor Signing Signals Bad News for Daniel Jones